Drink Magazine

Ingredient Spotlight: Lime

By Lucasryden @saborkitchen

The topic of Spanish colonialism in Latin America is a rather controversial one, especially for a cooking blog.  It’s filled with violence and struggle, repression and cultural rape.  Those things don’t belong here. These pages are for G-rated recipes and jaw-dropping food photos.  Not historical realism.

And yet, to separate a cuisine from its historical framework would be like telling people Lance Armstrong never had cancer.  As human beings, our story is what makes us unique.  The same goes for food – ignoring its history ignores its truth.  And in the case of Latin America, ignoring Spanish colonialism would mean ignoring one of the most important ingredients in Mexican cuisine: the lime.

ingredient spotlight: lime


Citrus aurantifolia was brought to the New World by the Spaniards during the period of exploration and  known as La Conquista.  The fruit has its roots in the middle East, somewhere between Iraq and Egypt, where it was prized for the acidity of its juices and floral aroma of its zest.  It was later spread throughout the Mediterranean during the Crusades.  When it finally arrived in Latin America, the lime thrived in the tropical climate of Mexico and Central America.  So well, in fact, that it is now erroneously referred to as the Mexican lime.


Lime juice is a potent cure-all in the canon of Mexican home remedies.  It’s recommended for an assortment of ailments, from insomnia to skin rashes to warding off ghosts – and with ample scientific evidence to back these claims (well, except maybe the ghost one).  Its high vitamin C and flavonoid content gives the lime antibiotic and disinfectant properties, protecting the skin from infections and boosting the immune system.  These same antioxidants have cancer-preventing qualities as well, neutralizing free radicals and stopping the cell division in many cancer lines.  Flavonoids increase the production of digestive juices and thereby make heavy meals easier on the stomach.  Given the average heaviness of a Mexican meal, limes are indeed a godsend.


In Mexico, the lime is served with everything except coffee and dessert.  It seems like every dish contains lime in some way, shape, or form.  It forms the base of many salsas and soups, and is the quintessential garnish on pretty much everything.  Its high acidity can be used to cook foods as well as flavor them, demonstrated in certain seafood dishes like ceviche.

But limes aren’t just for eating.  They star in a variety of Mexican-inspired cocktails and beverages, from the margarita (tequila, lime, sugar, and salt ) to the micheleda (a sort of beer punch with chili and lime).  Non-alcoholic drinks include limonada preparada (lime juice and club soda) and agua de limón, including both the leaves and the juice.  In short, limes are in everything.  If you cut open a Mexican he would probably bleed the stuff.

ingredient spotlight: lime


so.cal ceviche
watermelon gazpacho
tequila-glazed chicken
tostones {fried plantains}
ginger lime aioli
jalapeño vinaigrette
roasted tomatillo salsa

classic mojito
la reconquista
strawberry basil caipirinha
avocado margarita
mango ginger margarita

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